“If we do not recognize, respect and reward our own we cannot seriously expect others do so for us,” Caricom secretary-general Roderick Rainford this week observed. Mr. Rainford advised that we should reward “not only outstanding personalities but also those who are struggling to achieve. It was also reassuring this week to hear Prime Minister John Compton extolling Mr. Romanus Lansiquot’s determined efforts at establishing St. Lucia’s first sports stadium, as well as the health minister’s million-dollar initiative to benefit Victoria Hospital, which attracted hundreds of supportive St. Lucians to William Peter Boulevard.
For Mr. Lansiquot the prime minister’s words on Sunday afternoon must’ve held special meaning. The word on the street had been that all was not well between the two; that the prime minister was not supportive of his Cabinet colleague’s unprecedented ambitions. For the health minister Mr. Compton’s expressed encouragement was not only vindication at last but it also added flesh to the bones of the largely secret suspicion that the prime minister is a much bigger man than his publicity would suggest. But enough of the two gentlemen and their current preoccupations. Our prime minister must now pay more attention to the future of our nation—in particular, to our young citizens who have little reason to confront the sacrifices that great accomplishments demand.
By his own determined efforts Mr. Lansiquot has proved in the face of widespread mindless criticism that nothing is impossible when faith and sweat combine. Pointless denying that what propels ordinary men to reach for the sky is incentive. The human condition demands it. As Mr. Rainford recently advised, we must now go out of our way to reward those who, despite at times crushing discouragements, stubbornly reach for the top rung of the success ladder.
Our prime minister must not only talk about the leaders of tomorrow. He must demonstrate at every opportunity his personal appreciation of the popular efforts at success—especially the efforts of the easily distracted young. He might start with a special recognition of Mr. Lansiquot’s work on behalf on sport; not so much for the minister’s sake but for the encouragement of our largely uninspired people. We at the STAR suggest the Sans Soucis Sports Complex be named after Romanus Lansiquot who, by the prime minister’s own word, “moved heaven and earth to build it. We already have a highway named after our prime minister. A cricket field has been named in honor of one of our nation’s greatest players—Mindoo Phillip. Why not a monument to the man widely acclaimed as our most industrious government minister? And while we’re at it, isn’t it time we reconsidered the decision to name our main airport Hewanorra? We might as well have named it St. Lucia Airport, Hewanorra simply being the ancient version of St. Lucia. I feel certain we could substitute a more useful dedication. And I don’t mean Helen!
For too long we have been honoring our special citizens after they have died or when they are too far gone to appreciate their reward for special contributions to their country’s development. Leo “Spar” St. Helen was one heck of an athlete, photographer and chronicler of things St. Lucian. He and George Odlum were close friends. John Compton also knew him well. Alas, all the younger Saint Lucian knows of Spar (if anything) is that he was another fat, old guy who lived with his family in Corinth and drove a van. Spar died without knowing how dearly his contributions were appreciated by those who had had the good fortune to know him as an athlete and artist. To echo Mr. Rainford: We cannot expect others to recognize and respect the efforts of our special sons and daughters when we refuse ourselves to do so!
Editor’s Note: The preceding by Rick Wayne first appeared in the 4 June 1988 edition of the STAR.